Long distances/ local dynamics: overcoming ‘culture history’

Author(s): David Griffiths

Year: 2015


This paper will begin by reviewing how ‘Viking Archaeology’ came about in the 19th and 20th centuries. Formed under the influence of a handful of key scholars, with their primary index of recognition based in Scandinavian museum collections, a widely-accepted paradigm of Nordic precedence was created. Aided by a series of influential Scandinavian publications, this stance produced a seemingly fixed series of cultural references, creating a strongly-identified intrusive ethnic grouping in material culture terms. This accorded almost too conveniently with the known proto-historical emphasis on conflict and oppositional cultural development. This paper critiques this approach as unduly systematic and normative, arguing for more attention to be given to intensive and nuanced local interaction in specific situations. The role of ancestral and long-distance cultural allegiances will be balanced against inter-ethnic relations observable in microcosms of individual settlement scenarios and in human-scaled landscapes. The role of Scandinavian homelands as an ongoing cultural inspiration to diaspora-based communities will be questioned, and reverse and multi-dimensional influences stressed. The paper will examine how we can progress from an archaeology of a ‘dominant other’ to an archaeology of a fugitive and dispersed actor network embedded in its surroundings.

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Cite this Record

Long distances/ local dynamics: overcoming ‘culture history’. David Griffiths. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395892)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;